Beauty in Nature
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I remember being fascinated with the outdoors and nature itself from such a young age. I would climb trees to look for birds and squirrels that lived within them, I would stare at beautiful flowers and wonder how they came to be and how long it will last, and I would watch animals from my screened in patio and watch as they prance around and live their lives peacefully. Now that I am older, I see nature as someone who has been a part of my life for so long. It is reliable when you are in need of guidance, and dependable for games when you are in need of some fun in your life, such as soccer. Some children, like me, grew up in nature whether it was because of sports, much needed alone time, or simply playing with siblings in order to have a good time, but what we don’t consider is how influential it has been on us. We have admired her beauty, yet we don’t know much about her. She is a mysterious being that is admired for her exquisiteness and destruction that she possesses. It is believed that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what is it and how can we differentiate it from everyday common things?
Writers like Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many more took it upon themselves to isolate themselves from society in order to get a clear idea of what to write about, or just to get some troublesome thoughts out of their head. They would observe nature and allow it to enter their thoughts in order to draw ideas of what they could write about, writing so beautifully that only nature could compete. This is something similar to what society does. They take images of gorgeous scenery and post it on their social media in order to gain likes, yet it can motivate people to open their eyes and comprehend the beauty that surrounds us each day. While it may look magnificent, there is an element in these images that takes away from really seeing it in person. There is no spark, there is no personality or life behind that frozen picture that glares back at you. There is something about looking at the breath-taking images through a man-made device that takes away its glory. Nature is something that only the individual can hold deep meaning to. It is an experience that one cannot share in pictures or by word of mouth, because there are no words to explain nature. Harvard University’s own Michael Popejoy wrote an article called Beauty in Nature that suggests, “The beauty of nature can have a profound effect upon our senses, those gateways from the outer world to the inner” (2014). I find this to be accurate, and it would explain how the artists mentioned above were able to use their senses to tune into nature and brainstorm brilliant ideas for their writing.
A philosopher and poet that seems to agree with my views on nature is Henry David Thoreau. He wrote about nature in most, if not all, of his work and enabled readers to ponder on our importance on this earth and what our purpose is living upon it. Thoreau has said many wise things, one of which is “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”. When we look at a beautiful site such as the mountains in the countryside or looking out onto the waters at Myrtle Beach, our minds will give us a memory. There is something pleasing about looking out, because of what we see not only from the outside, but from within as well.
Last semester I was battling with grades, finding time to work and save money, lack of a social life, and a stalker who would not leave me alone. All those happening at once made me feel like I was drowning and incapable of surviving this part of my life, just as most college students would feel. Something that kept me going, though, was that I would take trips to the beach. I would simply sit down in the hot, dry sand and stare out in the water and wonder about the life within it, and watch as the sun would set. Watch the colors of the sky change, the waters that were once loud would quiet and marvel at the changes around it. The sand would be cool to touch, the birds would fly above with such precision. It was the quiet that was going on around me that made my mind so loud. It gave me time to think, it was my muse when I didn’t know what to write about. Like Thoreau, I detached myself from people physically and mentally, which allowed me to learn more about myself. It enabled me to get ideas for papers or lessons to teach students, and it allowed me to forget some tribulations that I was facing at home. It gave me a sense of peace and quiet when all semester long I was stressing and paranoid. Thoreau also said “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright”. He totally nailed it with this quote and I can relate whole heartedly to it. Nature was my friend that I could go to for a break from life when I did not have anyone to go to. Enjoying and basking in her unrelenting beauty allowed me to explore my inner thoughts, and learn about my strength and just how powerful of a person I am because of my awareness. Nature healed me from the inside and out and words cannot express my gratitude and how thankful I am for my professor when I was in high school who suggested I try to get to know her. By helping me and seeing past my own flaws, I learned to love myself which, without a little help from something people take for granted every day, I would have never experienced that true beauty.
When I go to write a paper, I tend to find a nice spot outside and sit there for hours writing in my journal or typing away the ideas that come to my head. Being surrounded by technology sidetracks me from my writing and does not inspire me one bit. Fleeing into the arms of nature allows me to reconnect with myself and with an influential, spiritual being. When I go outside, I am distracted by the beauty of nature which, as I’ve stated before, allows me to discover new thoughts and inspires me to write about topics or ideas that are out of the box. Looking into a beautiful sunset allows me to conjure ideas that I would not have otherwise. There is beauty in the mind when observing nature, which some people do not realize exists. Some people miss the whole point of how we got here, and that we ourselves are naturally a part of the unknown in how humans were brought upon this earth. It is a beautiful mystery that can never be solved, which makes wildlife so inspiring. It cannot explain itself for why it is alive and how it was brought to this earth. There are no explanations of why it rains or how it gets so hot. Nature is unforgiving in its’ ways which is a bold characteristic that it possesses which I find admiring since I consider myself daring as well.
It is ironic how most writers get inspired by nature and come out of it with works of art that otherwise would have never inspired writers like me to talk about them. Terrance McKenna said that “Nature’s creativity is obviously the wellspring of human creativity. We emerge out of nature almost as its finest work of art”. Think about that — We come out as nature’s work of art when we are inspired by her. The mere thought of it takes my breath away — in awe, for it is so significant without us being totally aware of it. I never realized that before writing this essay, and now that the words are flowing through my fingertips onto the screen before me, I feel more in tune with nature and the earth than I had before. The social constraints that are put upon us keep me back from thinking freely, and once I step outside those shackles that I wear when I am around people release me from the expectations of others and I can truly feel free to have my opinions and think without criticism. What a wonderful blessing that is to think without punishment. I think of the novel 1984 by George Orwell where the citizens are restricted to think for themselves in fear they may offend Big Brother. There are people who feel that way today, and want to run away from the government’s control. Nick Rosen, founder of the Off-Grid website and author of “Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America” says that people choose to live off the grid because they place nature as a vital part of their lives. It allows the people in the community to work together as children of nature, depending on her sunshine, rain, and more. Their deep connection to nature is admirable, especially since I thought I had a good relationship to nature and understood her true beauty. They see beauty in nature’s destruction and take care of the wildlife she provides, using every bit when they have to kill so they are not wasteful. It would be hard for someone like me who is going to use electronics every day for the rest of her life to drop everything and hike out into the wilderness. I believe that the lack of technology is what beings these people closer to nature, something that I cannot live without. Being states away from my family, I am always on the phone communicating with them. Without my cell phone, I would be pretty lonely and homesick, yet these people make the sacrifices to live a pure and divine life. Â As beautiful as it may be, the unknown haunts me and discourages me from exploring that option and take it seriously like others have. I enjoy socializing with people through texts and e-mails, because it is accessible. I don’t have to wait an entire day to go to someone’s house and hope that they are home to answer, or wait a few days for the mail to arrive with the letters from friends. I would be too miserable without electronics to appreciate nature and the wonders of the world. Some people are strong enough to give up that kind of leisure, and some aren’t. However, nature works her magic to inspire and capture our attention to make us question our beliefs, or simply to give us something pleasing to look at when given the chance.